Article from The Spirit – Delaware County’s Award Winning Community Newspaper

Author: LorettaRodgers ,

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Sr. Maggie Gannon, OSF and Sr. Cathy McGowan, SSJ love the City of Chester and its residents, and their work at Anna’s Place has allowed them the opportunity to serve and minister to the people they so cherish.

For 12 years, the sisters served as president and principal, respectively, of Drexel Neumann Academy (DNA) and it was there they established long-lasting friendships with parents, students, extended family and a host of benefactors.

The sisters decided that the 2018-2019 school year would their last at DNA and accepted positions at Anna’s Place, a  hospitality center sponsored by the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia located on the west end of Chester,

Anna’s Place, named after Maria Anna Bachmann, founder of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, provides food and a host of activities for residents in that community.

“The sister who was the director of Anna’s Place was retiring and she invited us to think about coming to the west end of Chester,” said McGowan. “As educators you cannot stay at a place too long. You have to hand it over to new people. We felt Drexel Neumann was in great shape and it was time for us to hand it over. So, we decided that Chester’s west end is where the need is and we found out that is really the truth.”

Anna’s Place provides classes in art, crocheting, flower design and computers. Bingo is played one day a week and a full lunch is served on Thursdays for those in need. There is also a community garden and classes are taught in English as a second language.

Gannon said she feels that God was calling her and McGowan to do something different; to serve in a place where the need is great.

“We did everything we were called to do at Drexel Neumann Academy,” Gannon said. The building was in fabulous shape and the school was financially sound. Coming to Anna’s Place was like starting over again and we both felt that we had one good mission left in us to do something that would require lots of energy. God invited us to do his work here. You know, homelessness, poverty and mental illness was not our experience at Drexel Neumann Academy, but we are experiencing that here in the west end.”

Gannon said everything was going along well, but then the coronavirus pandemic hit, and Anna’s Place became even more of a refuge for people in need.

“Normally we are not a food cupboard, but there are people who are hungry, and that call needs to be answered” said Gannon. “We have seen such goodness and through the help and contributions of so many wonderful people, some of whom are complete strangers, thankfully the needs of our guests are being met.”

The sisters humbly request gifts of non-perishable food items so they can make bags for their guests, and gift cards in increments of $25 to grocery stores and fast food restaurants.

Gannon and McGowan are at Anna’s Place, 226 Norris St., from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Monday through Thursday and can be reached by calling 484-361-5900.

“We are grateful for anything,” Gannon said. “We are not asking for money. We just want to be able to feed our brothers and sisters.”